What to Expect from High School Tennis
Tennis is an awesome sport, and very different from most other high school sports. It's either 1-on-1 or 2-on-2, so you don't get stuck in a role where you only throw, run or play defense. You get to/have to do it all! Some players win with speed or with quick hands while others just hit great shots.
Athletes from a variety of backgrounds love that they can find their own way to win.
The coaches provide tons of opportunities to improve without forcing tennis to dominate your life year-round. Players who try tennis as a 2nd or 3rd sport frequently tell us how much they love the team's atmosphere. The most common regret among our graduating players is that they wished they would have started sooner. In general, the coaches love the sport, and they want you to love it too.
The rest of this is a long read. I apologize. But we do recommend that parents and players at least skim it at some point to see if anything catches your eye.
For Sherwood Girls Tennis Readers:
Sherwood High School currently provides funding for 2 coaches for the program. In recent years (and probably going forward), the team will fundraise to hire a 3rd coach in order to have a 3rd (JV2) team. We strive to be a No-Cut team (and achieve it almost every year), but there are no guarantees. If cuts have to be made, previous coaches have made them on blends of academics, attitude/work ethic and potential to contribute to the varsity team in the current or future years. To say that a different way, a freshman who has never played before has more future varsity potential than a senior who doesn't make the varsity squad. So, beginning and freshmen and sophomore players will almost always be given a chance unless their grades or attitudes are problematic. Exchange students who have never played will almost always make the team as well, even if they have never played. Being a part of a team is part of the American high school experience, so we want you to have a chance.
The Sherwood Girls Team is a successful and competitive team and expects to be that way for a long time. At the upper levels, decisions throughout the season are based on who the strongest players are at the time. Transfers, incoming freshmen and players from lower teams will all get a fair shot at the top teams each year if they want to try.
Between the coaches and volunteers, we’ll do what we can to provide the best experience that we can.
For All High School Tennis in Oregon Readers:
Tennis is a short and volatile season. In general, expect uncertainty. But here are some specifics.
Because a lot of the other stuff below here are about random stuff (good and bad), let me start with this. High School Tennis is fun - one of the most fun sports in high school. For most, it has a little less pressure than a lot of other sports, and the fact that you'll almost always have people on your team right around your skill level makes it a good experience. Most teams will have a place for beginners to learn the game as a group. And as players progress (sometimes at different speeds), there will still be people to play and compete with. Matches typically have 70-200 points, and you'll be involved in most of them. So there isn't a lot of waiting around for something to happen. And the people who play are typically nice and there for the same reasons you are.
1) Rain: There will certainly be practices and matches impacted by rain. As for everything else, keep an eye on sherwoodtennis.net for official updates. By early afternoons on match days, the home team's athletic director will take their best guess about whether or not the match will be playable. Matches are not playable on wet courts and forecasts of "occasional showers" are frequent in the Spring, so it really is a guess. So, expect rain-outs and make-up dates for matches. Note that Saturdays are considered playable days for make-up matches during the season. They rarely happen, but they may.
2) Late nights: Varsity matches have 8-9 matches, which take 40-180 minutes each, frequently on only 4 courts. Most teams have a second site for JV, but if they don't, JV matches go on after varsity. Our goal is to get everyone a match if possible, so some of the road trips can go fairly late. That will sometimes require a stop for dinner on the way home as well. Players can usually find some down time on the bus or before or after their match for homework, but it’s not a bad idea to make sure they get a little extra done the night before a match.
3) Small teams from opponents: Some schools have small teams and no official JV team, so not everyone will get to play.
4) No referees: High school tennis players make their own line calls. Calling lines is a learned skill and lots of players will butcher a lot of line calls. I don't think more than about 5% are actively cheating, but even at the varsity level, matches are full of bad calls. Players also keep the official score, and mistakes get made. That leads to #5.
5) For Parents: Don't get involved in the matches: Even when you see bad line calls or people getting the score wrong, parents need to stay out of it. Coaches for the most part have to stay out of it and can only over-rule their own players. Parents should stay 100% out of it. This will be difficult for you - there's nothing worse than seeing your son or daughter win a match, but have a score disagreement or bad call result in it going the other direction. It happens, and it's not fun.
6) Parents can't coach (or yell "helpful" advice from the sidelines). Most competitive tennis does not allow any coaching at all. High school tennis is unique in that it allows a little coaching. Parents do not count as coaches and coaching can result in penalties for the players.
7) Expect competitive matches where all players matter. For the most part, each team's best will face off against each other while less experienced players play each other lower in the line-up. And all 8-9 of the varsity matches count the same, so a win at #4 doubles counts the same as a win at #1 singles. Some matches are won by a team's top players, but most matches are won by the lower positions. Strong players in roster spots #8-14 are a HUGE advantage for a team. Don't expect those spots to just be given away.
8) No subs. This is one place where tennis is fairly unique. For each match, we set a line-up and that is who plays for the day. There are no subs for injured or tired players. Players who are just having a bad day will need to dig deep and try to find a way to still win. For varsity team members who aren’t in the line-up for the day, we will always try to get them a non-counting practice match at the end.
9) A short season. Tennis season is practically over before it begins. Winter sports run for almost four months. Tennis season for most players is 9-10 weeks. Considering that we’ll get rained out for part of that time, total practice time each season is very limited. Because of that, the coaches appreciate when players are as dedicated as possible to tennis during the season. Taking a family vacation during the season or trying to do secondary sports/activities put a bigger than expected dent in the season. For players who want to move up the line-up, off-season practice is highly recommended (but not required).
10) Expect a few decisions you don't like from the coaches. Every season is different, and the coaches generally need to balance a lot of goals:
Preparing top players for the district and state tournament
Upcoming player development (preparing to win next year)
Not everyone will get to play in every match. Players may not get to play with their favorite doubles partner. You may have to play doubles instead of singles (or vice versa). You may move from #3 singles to #1 singles and get killed because #1/#2 were put into doubles. Players and parents should not take it personally – it's about what is best and right for the team. Trust me, we are not trying to ruin your day.
11) Expect some easy wins and "easy" losses. The variation between team levels in Oregon tennis is HUGE. Some teams are amazing. Other teams are not. Please prepare to bring a good attitude to every match, regardless of the situation. Use the easy matches as opportunities to work on some part of your game. Use the hard ones learn what you can from the better players. "You Win or You Learn" is a pretty attitude. Most importantly, treat your opponents how you would want to be treated in the same situation. Stories like "Oh, I liked Lisa. She was at least really nice when she kicked my butt" are pretty common.
12) Volunteers. The best tennis programs around have official coaching staffs supplemented by volunteers. Do yourself a favor and be open to what those volunteers and assistant coaches have to say. When I see names of people who are volunteer coaches, it's amazing. As in, the #1 player in the world over the age of 50 was a volunteer coach for a JV team for years outside Portland. Each coach has a wide variety of tennis knowledge and different areas of expertise - you'll learn a lot from each of them if you are willing.